Market taxi stand ordinance approved

Late night taxicab stands for all Market-area weekend pickups could become a reality in the next 30 days after Charleston City Council unanimously approved the ordinance Tuesday.

And that could be just the start. Police Chief Greg Mullen said he may try for similar stands on King Street to curb heavy weekend street traffic there, though that effort would be some time away.

Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance creating three designated taxi stands in the downtown Market area, which would be the only places riders could be picked up during the later hours on weekends.

City officials backed the idea as a means of better regulating the popular area where weekend revelers have been known to run into the street looking to flag a ride.

Under the newly approved ordinance, from 12:30 to 3 a.m. Friday through Sunday, the three locations would be the only places where taxi and rider could meet within the confines of Market and surrounding streets. Taxis there would have to queue on a first-come, first-served basis.

Several cabbies opposed to the regulation appeared before council to speak against it, saying it was unfair to restrict their cruising habits.

“If they call me for a personal pickup, I can’t do it,” said taxi driver Chris Wand, who sat in the audience at City Hall. “I have to pass it to the head of the line.”

Others challenged city officials to do a ride-along with a cab driver, to experience what they do, before passing new laws.

One of the stands would be on Market Street, across from the Planters Inn. Another would be at Market and East Bay streets, near the Noisy Oyster and the Customhouse. The largest of the three stands would be at the corner of Market and Anson streets.

All three are being placed in a “No Flag” zone, where cabbies who violate the rules would face a fine of $262.

The ordinance will be in place for a one-year pilot program. City officials plan to put out fliers and issue other means of educating the taxis, bars, local visitors and tourists on the new rules.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.

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